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E'en Sundays not excepted. Sirs, your friend
Is a coward.
[Coolly puts up her sword. Sir Rup. Furies !
Cath. Fiends, and all sorts of imps !
Swearing won't save you, sir—I'll prove my words.
I dare you at the tournament, to-morrow,
To break a lance with me. - Observe you, sirs :
My sword to your dagger, he takes flight to-day,
And waits not for to-morrow.
Sir Rup. Will I not?
I will have satisfaction:--I accept
His challenge. I will have satisfaction, sirs !
Cath. You shall, and have it to your heart's content.
Take linsey-woolsey with a halt, and the skin
Of a negro, rather than essay a tilt
With chance to win a Countess! I could laugh
To scorn, the man that would believe him! Oh!
He shall have satisfaction! I could beat him
With a rush in rest.—He shall have satisfaction !
Sirs, he will cower at the very sight of me!
Fall on his knees, and beg his life of me
With claspéd hands. He shall have satisfaction !
[They go out severally. SCENE III.-A Room in the Castle.
Enter CountESS, L. U.E. Coun. It is confirmed-the place he holds beside her, Her every action speaks.
Of all her court,
He is the only one, whose duties to her
She takes as favours, not as things of course.
He comes ! Who stops him thus untimely?
How changed he is! The fiery hardihood
Of the life he hath of late made consort of,
Hath given another spirit to his eyes;
His face is cast anew, as circumstance
Could alter Nature's modelling, and work,
Improving on her mould. Is that the man
Was once my father's serf, and I did scorn?
Fell ever at my wayward frown that brow?
Or stooped that knee for me, to kiss the ground ?
Would they do it now? Fell ever at my feet
That form, as prostrate as the hand of death
Had struck it to the floor } 'Twould take that hand
To lay it now there--and a waive of mine
Had done it once! If he confesses hold
any other, never shall he learn
His hold of me; but if he strives in love,
I bless my stars I have the 'vantage ground.
[Huon enters and remains standing at a distance, with
his eyes on the ground. Coun. Is Huon here, and does not Huon speak. (Pauses. Absent so long, no greeting for a friend ? A woman, too! [Pauses.] No salutation kind, Prelude of happy news she'd joy to hear, Relation of adventures she would thrill To listen to,-exploits she would wonder at, And the next moment at her wonder blush, Knowing whose arm achieved them!
Huon. I am glad To find
Coun. You are glad to find me well ?
I hope you are! It were not saying much,
I trust, to say I know you are! You are glad
To find me well! Is that your news for me?
If 'tis, it is strange news.
Huon. You wished to see me,
And I am here to learn your will.
Coun. More news !
You are a friend worth parting with, you bring
Such marvels home with you! Some time, methinks,
Since last we met together, and you are glad
To find me well !-and, as I wished to see you,
You are here to learn my will! You were not here,
Had not I sent for you.
Huon. It would have been
Coun. Presumptuous ?
Huon. Yes, madam, In the serf. Coun. (With sudden indignation. No, sir, not in the
favourite Of the Empress ! (She rises.] Huon, this is not the way We ought to meet-it should not be in anger!
You are come home, and you are welcome home.
Requires my tongue a backer to give credence ?
Well, there's my hand beside ! Do you not take
My hand ?
Huon. You are a noble lady, madam,
Whose father was my lord, by leave of whom
I thought, and had a will—did what I did -
Yea, kept the very
blood within my
veins. Behoves it I should take his daughter's hand ?
Coun. You mock me !
Huon. Would I did, and 'twere a dream!
But dreams are not repeated day by day,
And day by day reminds me of a time
I was your father's serf.
Coun. No more of this.
Huon. Oh, would no more! The wounded body heals :
The pain is over, all is sound again,
A scar reminds you of it-nothing more !
Not so the heart, you lacerate it once !
may dull, pursuit engross-divert; But never are you ransomed from the throe. Live your meridian out, it comes again, Fresh as at first, to make you writhe anew.
Coun. We do not meet to talk of grievances.
Huon, I offered you my hand just now.
Huon. Oh! 'tis a hand
Thou hast forbidden mine to meet.
Coun. No, Huon,
Not as friends. [Sits. Then aside, recovering herself.1 I'll
see him clearly first.-
Sit down, and let us talk. I have fifty things
I want to say to you, yet know not which
To begin with. Huon, do you like the Empress ?
Huon. Like her!
Coun. Yes like her! That's the word I said.
Perhaps it should be, "love her?”
Huon. Love her, madam !
Coun. [Interrupting him.] I see you do! Go on! What
were you going To say?
Huon. Oh, contrast marvellous! beyond Belief of nature !
Coun. Ay! 'twixt her and me!
Go on! The contrast ? Best we understand
Each other.Well! The contrast?
Huon. 'Twere as one
Should find the sun by following the night;
Should plunge into her regions, and for chill,
And gloom, and steriless, find light and warmth,
And verdure, such as should belong to day!
'Twere as death owned a heart, and life had none,
But with the shows of animation
Did lodge within its breast a core of stone,
While still the ribs of death bad pulse within them.
Coun. Am I that day, that life, compared to which
Death, night, are e'en so rich? Is she thou servest
That death, that night, preferred to life and day?
Huon. Oh! I did love thee to oblivion Of myself! What nature gave me to assert, The man neglecting, as despised things Compared to thee! That she intended me For deeds of nobleness, I may confess, Seeing that others own I have achieved them. Yet I abused her bounties—and for what? Scorns—wrongs-through love of thee preferred them! Until the cause itself That made me bear them thou! didst make a means Of yet
unknown oppression. That I bore-
But there did patience cease! Yes! not until
Coercéd there, where, spared, I were content
To last the thrall of passion's lethargy,
Did I rebel! But when I was struck down
Prostrate, as for the sake of flesh and blood
Behoves not slaves to lie with marvel on't
I waked to sense of what I ought to be :-
Of what, against my will, 'twas past the sport
Of power to change me from A MAN!-and straight
A man I started up! a man, resolved
To use his attributes as fits a man,
To vindicate the ancient, common birthright,
And answer the design of Him that framed him!
Coun. So ! you have registered your debts to me,
No item overlooked thou knowest of..
What, now, if I could name to theo one debt,
Would blot out all the rest !-- not known to thee !
A debt thy dreams did never give thee glimpse of
Thy dreams where thou didst soar, didst cast away
The clog last morn put on, and mount as high
As e'er ambition left at large could wing,
Daring the eagle to come up to thee?
Huon. No debt that thou couldst name were gain to me.
I keep no register of aught between us
Or, if I do, I never turn to it,
Unless enforced, as now. Whate'er has passed,
Is passed; and, profitless to memory,
Were better be forgotten.
[Crosses to L. Coun. [R. Ay? Indeed! So easily done? [Sits.] Well, be it so! 'Tis past, And so should be forgotten. Please you, now Turn to the Empress. (Huon sits.) You have painted me : Proceed to her. Come, let me see what hand You will make of her picture. When I asked you now If you liked her, you did echo me l-and then I asked you if you loved her, and again You echoed me! I want an answer, not An echo! Well, sir ? well ?...
Huon. Madam, I love And honour her. [She starts from her seat; he rises also. Coun. Thou art rewa
warded, pride! Meet’st thy deserts! Show thy high breeding now! Tread stately! throw thy spurning glances round, And talk as mighty things as though the earth Were made for thee alone! Where's thy domain} Gone! And thy palace, what is it ?-a ruin! And what art thou thyself ?-a beggar now! Huon, you loved me once? [Bursts into tears, and sinks Huon. I loved thee once !
Oh! tell me when was it I loved thee not!
Was't in my childhood, boyhood, manhood ? Oh!
In all of them I loved thee; and were I now
To live the span of my first life twice told,
And then to wither, thou surviving me,
I lived in thy sweet memory,
Then mightst thou say of me, “He loved me once-
And that was all his life !"
Coun. (Rises.]. 'Twas heart for heart !